"Lumbees seek HUD audit." Fayetteville Observer March 28, 2011.
Tribal Chairman Purnell Swett has asked federal housing officals to immediately begin their annual review of tribal housing programs. He contacted the Office of Native American Programs within the Department of Housing and Urban Development three weeks ago and asked that the office begin its yearly monitoring of tribal housing expenditures early.
"I became concerned several weeks ago," Swett said in a news release, "that due to the constitutional issues I raised in regard to the processes and tactics that the Tribal Council were using to try and obtain information, particularly regarding contracts, the perception would become that I had something to hide.
I now take this action to assure the tribal membership and the Tribal Council that I, nor my administration, have anything to hide." The struggle between the Swett and the Tribal Council started when Swett refused to turn over even basic information about consulting contracts and some employment agreements. The contract under review was with Rose Marie Lowry-Townsend, the tribe's chief administrator, whom the Tribal Council had voted to terminate.
The Tribal Council had agreed to pay chief administrator between $96,000 and $106, 000. Lowry-Townsend's contract exceeded that amount.
The Lumbee Supreme Court ruled in April, 2010, that the council was entitled to contract information from the tribal chairman. When Swett did not release the contracts, the Tribal Council voted to ask the federal government to withhold $15 million from its housing program. The federal money is the tribe's primary source of income.